“Yesterday I talked to strangers.”

…that is what I wrote on the 18th of March, 2016.

I woke up on the 18th and remembered what had happened the day before. I had been sitting in a train to London, minding my own business and wearing my headphones until a large group of men got in the train from Cheltenham. I could guess they had been to the horse race. They were all jolly and had done well with their bets.

My natural reaction was to turn the volume up on my phone, adjust my headphones even tighter and after smiling politely to avoid eye contact. Instead, one of the two gentlemen who sat down in front of me asked me what I was listening to and suggested I let them hear the music as well. I was slightly annoyed that someone had bothered me but I was also embarrassed about my song choice. I said I was fine and continued listening. Eventually I did take the headphones off but without letting them know the contents of my music library, put the phone inside my pocket.

After a moment or two of dodging questions about the music in my headphones, the topic changed and suddenly we were in the middle of a conversation. We talked about families, grandparents, their children, movies, music and even Finnish candy. The conversation flowed so naturally, I didn’t even realise to ask their names. It was like I was talking to some old friends.

I often get into conversations with strangers (I had a lovely chat with an older man at the station before boarding the train as well) but this time it felt special. We cried together, we shared things I never thought I would share so quickly after meeting someone. It might have been the glass of wine I had had beforehand but I also think it could just be some kind of cosmic connection I simply happen to share with these people.

After we reached our shared destination, the two men insisted on double-checking I get the right line to my friend’s place. We hugged, I was given some contact details and then we parted our ways. I felt so light and happy but also incredulous. From looking at us three, you wouldn’t see anything in common. After hearing our stories, you couldn’t but see it.

During these couple of hours in the train I learned about love, I got encouraged to get on with a project I’ve been nervous about; I practiced empathy and I was offered support. No matter our age, no matter where we are from, there are always things we can learn from the person next to us.

Let’s keep our minds open.

 

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